Keeping those birds
WINGS OF SUCCESS To keep aircraft airworthy, engineers need to have a thorough understanding of machines, quick decisionmaking ability, patience and discipline
The whole world seemed like a toy box full of things (that needed to be fixed) to Spandan Dhar. This fascination with gadgets led to a career in aviation. “I was a naughty kid who was always intrigued by how things work. I used to open up everything at home, from television sets to my brand new toys, although the outcome used to be disastrous,” he says.
Though being an aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) was not Dhar’s first preference, he has no regrets. “I always wanted to become a pilot but the high price of pursuing my dream was beyond my means. So I thought why not get to know how these birds fly and what goes on behind the scenes to keep these huge metal birds aloft. And I started focusing on AME,” he adds.
Dhar works with the line maintenance department at Indigo. “I work on airbus aircrafts. While working on these aircrafts, security checks, time and cost are vital. The workload is overwhelming. AMEs typically work on rotating shifts — two morning shifts followed by two afternoon shifts and two night shifts and then one gets two days off — this varies from airline to airline. Despite bad weather conditions with temperature as high as 45 degrees down to three degrees and even torrential downpour, I have to stand on a trestle as high as 40 metres for hours at a stretch troubleshooting a snag. If it takes too much time to fix the glitch, then the flight has to be cancelled as the lives of the passengers cannot be compromised at any cost. A small goof-up can cost you your job as well as the licence. But the amount of satisfaction I get when an aircraft takes to the skies is beyond words,” he says.
After finishing Class 12, Dhar pursued a three-year AME licence training course from the Indian Institute of Aeronautics. “Unlike other streams, this is not a degree course. The course makes one eligible for a certificate called a basic AME certificate. Training is imparted for servicing and maintenance of aircraft. After completing the course and passing an internal exam, one has to clear the licensing exam conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Government of India,” he says.
Talking about his training days, Dhar says, “There are mixed emotions about those days — dreams soaring high, desperate need to prove yourself, pressure of high expectations and feelings of despair and desolation. Given the market scenario, I was not sure whether I would ever be able to realise my goals.”
However, the licence or certificate doesn’t guarantee a job in this field. “After graduating from college, I was greeted with a stagnant industry, with absolutely no room for a fresher. That’s why I turned to general aviation jobs. I worked for a non-scheduled operator to gain some experience. In order to appear for the DGCA exams, one needs practical experience on aircraft, but most airlines would turn you down unless you had cleared these exams. Of late, the situation has improved as most of the institutes help students find internships in various organisations which enables them to sit for DGCA exams,” he says.
Sharing some advice, Dhar says that there is no room for mediocrity and impatience in this field. “You need a lot of perseverance, experience and knowledge to excel. If you are not disciplined and have the zeal, then this is not your cup of tea.”
According to Spandan Dhar there is no room for mediocrity and impatience in this field. A small goof-up will not only put the lives of fliers at risk, it will also cost you your job as well as the licence.